Gear, tent, sleeping kit for a long 4wd trip in the Australian desert

This article is the second in a series by Georgie as she and her husband four wheel drive  to Cape York and through central  Australia.  This piece focuses on  choosing recovery and emergency gear, tents, sleeping kit and vehicle selection. You can read the first article here –  The Big Trip – 4wd adventuring to the far north of Australia

Over to Georgie:

Hello again
We knew we needed some specific kit to tackle the Old Telegraph Line (OTL) to the Cape, and the desert, just as you need specific gear to walk Tassie’s Overland Track.

After spending hours checking blogs and online catalogues, we headed down to The Brisbane Caravan Show with our shopping list. It was great to touch things and watch demonstrations on gadgets and ‘must haves’ – and it helped us cross a lot off our shopping list as just that, gadgets. We were keen on one type of tent, but after flapping it around a bit we changed our minds, and found a much more suitable tent, at a quarter the price. We bought some ‘Show Specials’, but a lot of gear was much cheaper on line.

Two weeks before Departure date we felt we had it all – and we did, we had stuff for almost every contingency we might happen upon. The photo shows most of our collection – ready to be stuffed neatly into the canopy of our new beaut ute.

recovery gear

Some of the gear used as backup for the trip


The ute.

back of four wheel drive

Back of the  four wheel drive with sleeping gear and 12v Fridge

Our old Triton ute was not up to the job and we found a 2010 Ford Ranger less than 10kms from home, fully kitted up to do the OTL and Birdsville Track in 2011.

Talk about lucky! The owner had added a 2 inch lift kit – which makes it VERY high to get in and out – full brush bars, roof rack, side awning, fridge slide, 3 batteries, all sorts of tricky electric plug things, and an inverter. We only needed 2 new Coopers tyres on the spares to get the car trip ready, and it has not missed a beat in the 6500 kms travelled so far.

The tents.


The Ute and Oztrail Tourer 9 Plus

We didn’t intend to, but we ended up buying mainly Oztrail camping gear, including 2 tents – a canvas Oztrail Tourer 9 Plus for sleeping in, and a light tent that clips to the car awning, to eat in to escape mossies and sandflies. The Tourer  is great, as it has just one central pole, so is quick to put up, but is heavy to pack up. We mainly used the lighter awning tent for the first four weeks, as it goes up quickly and is light. Then we inherited our daughter’s 30 second Wanderer tent – a light tent with external frame that literally goes up and down in 30 seconds.

Our two tents are now just coming along for the ride – so I reckon a good quality pop up tent is the way to go. We considered an Oztrail RV 30 second tent, but the frame was too long to go inside our canopy, so it would have had to be tied up on the roof rack – not something we felt we could happily do every day for two months.

Our beds.

camping gear

More gear for the trip

We thought stretchers would be the go, so bought two – but they have not come out of their bags yet, and I doubt they will. This is because we also bought two Oztrail self-inflating ‘leisure’ mats – which are the most comfortable non-mattress beds we have ever slept on, so we haven’t needed the stretchers.

We got the mats at a small camping shop for $80 each – a $40 saving off retail. There are four plugs at the end to miraculously let air in to uncurl the mats, but we only undo two, so we only have to do up two. We got two singles, which are easier to roll up each day than one double. I pile up the beds with four sleeping bags, but they tend to slide around and off in the night, so next trip I will just take a queen size doona.

I’m off to put the billy on for a hot cuppa, so talk to you again soon.



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